George Bowden and Peter O'Hara tied a tournament called the Houston Professional Golf event way back in 1922 and there was a tournament sporadically held annually in the Houston area up until 1938.
The event was lost entirely during the war years but reappeared in style in 1946, with Byron Nelson getting the better of Ben Hogan by two strokes. There was no event in 1948 or 1969 but the Shell Houston Open has been an ever-present on the PGA Tour otherwise.
Since 2007, with the exception of 2013, it's always been played the week before the US Masters.
Golf Course of Houston, Humble, Texas
Par 72, 7441 yards, stroke average in 2016 - 71.89
Formally known as Redstone, the Golf Course of Houston was Rees Jones' first 'from scratch' design. It was built specifically to host this event and will be doing so for the 12th time in-a-row this year.
The fairways are wide with little rough to speak off and water is in play on half the holes. The Bermuda greens are larger than average and in an attempt to simulate conditions at Augusta National, home of the US Masters next week, they'll be playing fast. Most years they aim for around 13 on the stimpmeter.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 21:00 UK and Ireland time on Thursday
Last Five Winners
2016 - Jim Herman -15
2015 - J.B Holmes -16 (playoff)
2014 - Matt Jones -15 (playoff)
2013 - D.A Points -16
2012 - Hunter Mahan -16
What Will it Take to Win the Shell Houston Open?
It doesn't appear to matter what you do off the tee here, we've seen recent winners top the Driving Distance stats (JB Holmes in 2015) and we've seen winners rank as lowly as 50th and 61st (Hunter Mahan and D.A Points) for that stat.
Last year's winner, Jim Herman, ranked 40th for DD and he ranked 16th for Driving Accuracy but that was the highest any recent winners have ranked. Phil Mickelson was able to win in 2011 despite ranking 67th for DA and a year earlier, Anthony Kim won despite the entire field finding more fairways than him. I'd marginally favour length off the tee over accuracy but the most important stat has been Greens In Regulation. Mickelson ranked 11th for GIR in 2011, the last five winners have all ranked inside the top-ten, and if we dig a little deeper, there's even more evidence to suggest GIR is the key stat...
The three players ranking first, second and third for GIR last year all finished inside the top-ten, the two players Holmes beat in a playoff in 2015, Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner, ranked tied third for GIR and Russel Henley, who finished fourth, hit more greens than anyone else. The 2014 playoff protagonists, Matt Jones and Matt Kuchar, ranked one and two for greens hit and the 2012 winner, Hunter Mahan, also ranked first for GIR.
Par 4 Scoring has been really important here too. The first two home last year, Herman and Henrik Stenson, ranked tied second on the par fours, Holmes ranked number one for Par 4 Scoring two years ago and Spieth, who lost in the playoff, ranked second. In the last 11 years, since the event switched to this venue, ten of the 11 winners have ranked inside the top-10 for that stat and all 11 have ranked inside the top-10 for birdies made.
Is There an Angle In?
The Wells Fargo Championship looks to correlate very nicely. Vijay Singh, Anthony Kim and J.B Holmes have all won both tournaments and Shell winners Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and even D.A Points have come very close to winning at Quail Hollow. And last year's 1000.0 shock winner, Herman, even franked the course correlation as he finished a very respectable 13th at Quail Hollow in 2015.
Another event that may be worth looking at closely is the Phoenix Open, staged at TPC Scottsdale. Holmes is a two-time winner there, the 2011 Shell winner, Phil Mickelson, has won there three times, and Hunter Mahan has also taken both titles in the last seven years.
Huge outsider, Mark Wilson, the Phoenix Open winner in 2011, was in-the-mix at halfway here two years ago and so was Graham DeLaet, who traded at odds-on in Phoenix three years ago before getting edged out by Kevin Stadler. Both venues have plenty of water in-play, nice wide fairways, and little rough and the results certainly suggest they correlate nicely.
Is There an Identikit Winner?
Australians often play well in Texas, with the usually dry and windy conditions tending to replicate the sort of conditions experienced Down Under. Stuart Appleby and Adam Scott won here in 2006 and 2007 and Matt Jones became the third Aussie to take the title in 2014. And outsiders have fared well here of late too...
Last year's winner, Herman, was matched at 1000.0 before the off and so too was the 2013 winner, D.A points. I have fond memories of collecting on Holmes at 38.037/1 in 2015 so he wasn't a huge price but Matt Jones was matched at 200.0199/1 12 months earlier. There are some high class players in the line-up this week but it might be worth swerving them all if recent evidence is anything to go by.
Keep an Eye on the US Masters Market
With the Augusta showpiece now just days away, what happens here will have a huge impact on the US Masters market and every year big moves are made.
It's always difficult to gauge how hard those in the reckoning for next week's major will be pushing this week but I've come to the conclusion its best not to even think about it. Winning any PGA Tour title is a big deal and should someone start well, they'll never take it easy because they're protecting themselves for a potentially gruelling tournament in a week's time. A win's a win and if you fancy someone here don't leave them out because you think they may be saving something for next week. In reality, that just doesn't happen.
Given Holmes was the first winner on the PGA Tour to come from six back with a round to go since Matt Jones had done so in this event 12 months earlier, it's clearly possible to win from some way off the pace but Jim Herman won from the front last year and that felt like normal service had resumed.
Both the 2014 and 2015 results were unique in their own way. Jones, who had been sitting fourth through 54 holes, benefited from a really poor finish by Matt Kuchar, who had led by four with a round to go, and Holmes got lucky with the weather but we already knew he was capable of ridiculously low scoring.
He'd fired an incredible opening 62 in tricky conditions at Trump International the month before his final round 64 here and he was helped out considerably by the conditions...
Rain had softened the course nicely and the fact that he started out way before the leaders was most advantageous. As the day wore on the air appeared heavier and making birdies wasn't quite as easy as it had been when Holmes embarked on his final round. All the stars aligned for Holmes, as they had done for Jones 12 months earlier and in the fullness of time, these two results could well be viewed upon as freakish.
Prior to 2014, Adam Scott in 2007, who benefited from a late Stuart Appleby collapse, had been the only winner not to be within two of the lead with a round to go and every winner bar Holmes has been inside the top-four places after 54 holes.
The short par four 12th is easy enough and the par five 13th ranked the second easiest on the course last year but after that the finish is tough enough with the par five 15th the only easy hole coming in. That averaged 4.76 last year and it was the fourth easiest hole encountered. The 14th and 16th are demanding par threes and 17 and 18 both average over par every year, with the par four finishing hole, with water very much in play throughout, consistently ranking as the hardest on the course. Last year it averaged 4.39.
Dustin Johnson withdrew from the 2014 Shell Houston Open after a first round score of 80 and he missed the cut here in both 2008 and 2009 but on his only two other appearances he's finished fourth in 2013 and third last year so it's a venue that suits his eye.
Anyone holding juicy ante-post tickets about DJ for next week might be a bit concerned he's teeing it up this week after three wins in-a-row and a gruelling weekend at the WGC Match Play and that has to be a concern for this week too. He looked understandably tired on the 18th green on Sunday and, even though he takes everything in his stride, a week in-the-mix here might not be ideal with the year's first major now just days away.
He's playing so well that he can't possibly be ruled out lightly but a slight dip in form would be understandable after his very recent exploits and he looks short enough to me in what is an extremely hot betting heat.
Jordan Spieth's day one defeat to Hideto Tanihara at last week's WGC Match Play wasn't the huge surprise it first appeared given the Japanese star made it all the way to the semi-finals and he wasn't a pushover for DJ in their final four tie either. Spieth played well in both his next two ties and he was very happy with his driving. In an interview with Sky's Rob Lee he spoke of how he needs to sharpen up his work on and around the greens but that he was happy with his game as we approach the US Masters.
Spieth led here with a round to go two years ago before being beaten by Holmes in the playoff so I imagine this home state event is one he's keen to win but at the same time, next week is of far more importance and it's hard to go backing any of these short-priced players with confidence.
But for a few holes on the front-nine in yesterday's final, Jon Rahm played brilliantly at last week's WGC Match Play. It's now plain to see that the 22-year-old Spaniard has a massive future in the game and breaking into the top-ten is only a matter of time. As are many more PGA Tour titles and even major championships but I fancy he's worth swerving here.
As already stated, I suspect the long week in Austin will have a bearing in DJ's performance and I suspect it'll have an even more pronounced effect on Rahm who not only has to overcome the length of the week (seven rounds in five days), he'll also need to overcome the disappointment of defeat.
With Houston form figures reading 3-21-2-54-2, Henrik Stenson is something of an in-and-out course specialist and his current form is similar too. After a slow start on a chilly Thursday at Bay Hill, Stenson surprisingly missed the cut in the Arnold Palmer Invitational last time out and he withdrew in Mexico with a dicky tummy last month but other than those two efforts, he's been consistently strong all year.
His price of around 16/1 is fair enough and I can see him contending but after losing money on him in his last two starts, I'm going to go him a swerve.
Honda Classic winner, Rickie Fowler, has finished 16th and 12th in his two subsequent starts and his course form, which reads 65-63-6-71-10, isn't spectacular. Like Stenson, he may benefit from missing last week's event in Austin but there's nothing in his CV that screams back me.
I'm going for five for starters here with a quintet of players that have already shown a strong liking for the venue.
The 2015 winner, JB Holmes, isn't at his best at present but he's twice topped the Putting Average stats recently and he has a habit of playing well at the same courses. He's a two-time winner of the aforementioned Phoenix Open and I was more than happy to take 50.049/1.
I thought 60.059/1 was fair enough for Russell Henley given his remarkable form figures. In just four starts here, over the last four years, he's finished 45th, seventh, fourth and fifth and his form so far in 2017 has been respectable enough.
Billy Horschel's Greens In Regulation stats have been impressive of late and he'll feel he should have perhaps won here in 2013 when he was beaten into second by another of my fancies, last week's Puerto Rico Open winner, D.A Points.
It's asking a lot for Points to double-up after last week but 200.0199/1 was just too big and so too was the 250.0249/1 I took about Cameron Tringale, who course form figures read a very respectable 73-8-16-4-5-57.
J.B Holmes @ 50.049/1
Russell Henley @ 60.059/1
Billy Horschel @ 75.074/1 (average)
D.A Points @ 200.0199/1
Cameron Tringale @ 250.0249/1
I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter